Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rage as spectacle

What emotion lies at the root of most human behavior? Fear. Fear of injury, rejection, abandonment, embarassment, loneliness.

What emotion do we fear most? Anger.

New Yorker Jed Palmer percieves a city whose capillary action is driven by the anger of its residents. I doubt all New Yorkers would agree. But I think he hits on something key in this passage: that anger "exists for its expression." No wonder that when denied expression, it can poison us from the inside out.

We pine in love and we decay in sadness. In shame we cower and from revulsion we withdraw. Fear chases us away. These are retiring emotions. Expressed or simply felt, they are private things, shared and managed among friends, or at least those we know. They emanate modestly, rarely achieving anything like powerful broadcast. Anger is different. Anger is the orangutan's effulgent orange ass. It exists for its expression, and even in its chastened state we describe it in a way that indicates its volatility: it seethes and smolders, and we step lightly nearby, reasonably fearing its explosion.
- Jed Palmer, 3 Quarks Daily